Petition to put synchronised swimming on GCSE list approaches 1,500 signatures

A young synchronised swimmer and her father are leading a petition to have synchro restored to the national curriculum.

When 13-year-old Lucy Watson was considering her GCSE options, both her and dad Brian were disappointed to not see synchronised swimming listed on the physical education activity list.

Like many synchronised swimmers up and down the country, Lucy trains three times a week, for a total of eight hours.

In addition to those sessions with Gateshead Synchronised Swimming Club, she spends her spare time improving her skills with land-based exercises at home.

As it stands, Lucy will need to take up a different sport to attain her GCSE in PE.

Brian said: “It was disappointing for several reasons. Obviously the main one is that she’s really passionate about it.

“She spends a lot of time doing synchro and it leaves little time to do anything else.

“To not be able to use something that she is good at and spends a lot of time doing, towards her education, she found quite disappointing.

“When you dig a bit deeper, there are many sports that aren’t on that list. However, there are sports on that list which, quite frankly, are no more specialist and comparable to what she does in terms of assessment.

“A lot of it can be done at club level and a lot can be done through the grading structure that synchro already has in place.”

Taking action

Brian started a petition to the Department for Education, hoping to spark a debate on the issue.

The petition already has almost 1,500 signatures, with a total of 10,000 needed to ensure a response from the government.

Water polo is also amongst the sports not considered on the activity list and Brian acknowledges his plight isn’t unique.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t fight for change.

“I do appreciate there are many other sports that are not on that list, but if nobody tries to fight their own corner, nothing will change,” he said.

“If the awareness was made more available, if there was more acceptance from the Department for Education that it is a highly-skilled sport that takes highly-talented people to be at the top of their game, it’s a good thing.”

Growing grassroots

The 2019 Swim England Synchro Combo Cup proves that the sport is thriving at a grassroots level, while the success of Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe on the international stage is helping to raise the profile of synchronised swimming.

Lucy met both Shortman and Thorpe at the 2018 Synchronised Swimming National Age Group Championships, admitting that made her ‘want to succeed even more’.

While the petition may not be successful in implementing change before Lucy begins her GCSEs, the Watsons have a long-term plan in mind.

“Obviously it’s come about because it’s personal to us, but when you look at the bigger picture, the number of people I’ve spoken to where so many girls have missed out because of it, there are so many girls currently who can’t use it and would love to,” Brian said.

“It’s important to us at a personal level, but it’s not for us and nobody else. There are tens of thousands of kids who would benefit from it.

“Even if nothing happens for Lucy, I don’t see why it shouldn’t change for girls and boys in the future.”

George Wood, Swim England Sport Development Director, has written to the secretary of state supporting the petition.

You can sign the petition here.

Top